by S BIRRUNTHA / pic credit: ace.video
THE Covid-19 pandemic has crippled the entertainment industry from music to the silver screens, as the world imposes sweeping lockdown measures to halt the virus.
As a result, live events such as concerts, plays, celebrity tours, meet-and-greets and film shoots were postponed or cancelled.
In Malaysia, the government has enforced a series of “stay-at-home” orders which prohibited large gatherings, both indoors as well as outdoors.
Nevertheless, with people connecting even more via social media during the lockdown periods, celebrities have found new ways to connect and engage with their fans, and gain new followers.
Onlyfans, Patreon and Cameo are among the most popular and dynamic celebrity shoutout platforms.
Cameo, a US-based celebrity platform, has dominated the entertainment industry since 2017, featuring many famous stars such as Snoop Dogg, Bella Thorne, Debbie Gibson and Lindsay Lohan.
Cameo recently saw an 800% growth in the number of users between April and May, with new talents and celebrities joining the site to connect with their fans.
According to South-East Asia’s celebrity platform ACE, 2020 has been all about embracing the trend of reinventing the entertainment industry in an online-only world.
Its co-founder and CEO Dene Schonknecht said celebrity shoutout platforms have been gaining support and interest from people globally, including Malaysians.
“Even before 2020 forced the world to embrace all things online, platforms that allowed creators to have a more direct and commercial relationship with their fans were seeing massive global growth.
“So, this year has been about accelerating the trend,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.
ACE is a Singapore-based personalised celebrity video platform which offers people a way to connect with their favourite local and international stars via exclusive content.
Short for “Authentic Celebrity Experiences”, ACE is dedicated in breaking the traditional and spatial barriers of conventional meet-and-greets.
The platform, founded in November 2019, allows people to book a short, personalised video message for themselves or as a gift for someone else.
The message could be anything ranging from a personal birthday greeting, Valentine’s Day love note, or a pep talk.
Speaking on the demand for such platforms in Malaysia, Schonknecht said fans across Asia are still learning about celebrity shoutout platforms and are excited about a new way to have a personalised interaction with their idols.
“Since our platform and product are completely digital, we are perfectly suited to adapt to the current no-travel world.
“Users can sign up talent for ACE anywhere in the world without travelling,” he noted, adding that the platform has everyone covered from athletes, musicians, DJs, models, influencers, actors to business leaders.
Users can book comedians like Harith Iskandar, Constance Lau and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton at the rate of RM332, RM186 and RM373 respectively.
Booking is easy, as users would just have to key in their personalised message request and make payment to confirm their booking.
In five days or less, the star will record the video and the video is ready to be downloaded.
Additionally, the platform also offers a “money-back guarantee” system, in which if the star could not complete the video for some reason, the money will be fully refunded.
On ACE, the celebrities can set their own booking fee for a video.
They take 75% of the booking fee, while the company keeps 25% for the platform’s maintenance cost and marketing campaigns. Schonknecht said celebrity shoutout platforms are a great way for talents to earn at a time when most events and travels are cancelled.
As it is on a dollar per hour basis, he said it is one of the most lucrative ways for celebrities to do so.
He added that the platform is actively growing its Malaysian talents, as well as international talents that will appeal to Malaysian consumers.
Although being a recent start-up, ACE has raised US$400,000 (RM1.65 million) in pre-seed funding and has procured over 200 celebrities with a total social media reach of 60 million people across the globe since its inception last year.
Currently, it is focusing primarily on the South-East Asian region, and expanding beyond and into the West due to a global demand from stars.